The vow by President Muhammadu Buhari to deal with criminals in the country and the warning by the United Kingdom on Nigerian possible destabilization over rising conflicts across the country made our picks for this week’s Politics Roundup.
We also considered some other major political stories last week and looked at their implications on the nation’s growth and why they should not be ignored.
1. Buhari’s endless vows
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, July 8, 2021, vowed criminals in the country will never go unpunished.
He was reacting to the brutal killing of some citizens, including a vigilante leader and head of Dabna, a village in Dugwaba, Hong Local Government Area of Adamawa State, a day earlier.
In a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, Buhari said, “This level of savagery, inhumanity and reckless disregard for the sanctity of life cannot go unpunished.
“We can’t afford to disappoint Nigerians that have entrusted their security into our hands.”
Nigerians are already disappointed. They are even getting more disappointed by the day with the incessant killings of innocent citizens across the country by bandits, Boko Haram terrorists, killer herdsmen, kidnappers and other criminal elements.
The people are tired of endless vows with no solution to their predicament. They want to see the government live up to its primary responsibility, the security of lives and property of citizens.
It is no longer time to issue warnings and make vows; Nigerians want action. They no longer want to be butchered and gunned down by the brutish marauders who kill and slaughter with reckless abandon.
2. UK govt warning
The United Kingdom government on Thursday, July 8, 2021, warned that the rise in conflicts across Nigeria could destabilise the country’s democracy before the 2023 general elections.
The Development Director, UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Mr Chris Beecroft, who gave the warning, blamed crises in Nigeria on injustice and impunity as well as weak judicial institutions, insisting that the conflict posed an existential threat to Nigeria’s unity and development.
He said, “The rise in conflict risks destabilising Nigeria’s democracy in the run-up to the 2023 elections. There is an active insurgency in the North-East; farmer-herder conflicts are extending across the country; resource conflicts in the Delta; tension in the South-East; and banditry in the North-West.
“Conflict destroys lives, destroys livelihoods, destroys hope and ambition for the future. Conflict represents an existential threat to Nigeria’s unity and its development.”
The UK government only stated the obvious. The signals are too glaring even for the blind to see.
It is, however, very unfortunate that the situation appears not to be getting the urgent attention it deserves.
In an atmosphere, where the perceived cause of the conflicts like ‘injustice and impunity are not being addressed, no one can be sure of the country’s future.
The government in power’s paying of deaf ears to growing calls for a national dialogue to address these concerns is certainly not the best.
3. Col Umar’s advice
A former military governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Umar (retd.), on Wednesday, July 7, regretted how President Buhari chose to channel his strength on the arrest of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu and not on how to end menaces by bandits and Boko Haram insurgents terrorising the country.
In a statement, he titled, ‘Nigeria: A nation challenged,’ Umar said: “The re-arrest of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, elicited congratulatory messages to the Federal Government which appears overwhelmed by the intractable security challenges and in dire need of any redeeming act.
“This is clearly an exaggeration of the security threat Nnamdi Kanu and indeed IPOB pose to our nation’s security and unity. It is quite strange and disturbing that the Federal Government is paying undue attention to the threats of separatist movements in contrast to the more daunting ones posed by bandits, kidnappers and insurgents in the North West, some parts of North-Central and North-East.”
He, however, noted, “IPOB and its leader may well be responsible for some of the violence, including the murder of security personnel, arson and destruction of public and private properties for which they should be held to account.”
Umar only spoke the mind of many Nigerians. The power the government dispensed in going after Kanu, Sunday Igboho, propagators of secession in the country from the South is considered a misplaced priority by many. The government seems to have succeeded in making many see it as pampering the outlaws in the North and across the country, (the deadly bandits, killer herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents), who have become more emboldened by the day owing to the perceived inaction of the government.
If the government want Nigerians to believe its seriousness in tackling the vexed issue of insecurity in the country, it should demonstrate the might it showed in the arrest of Kanu by also arresting leaders of bandits who some governors and a notable cleric in the North hobnob with, those of herdsmen who have claimed responsibility for many killings in the country and Boko Haram insurgents who have remained a turn in the flesh of the country for too long.
For a huge number of Nigerians, the federal government should channel its energy on how to urgently address the insecurity situation in the country rather than dispensing energy chasing gnats while the threat of implosion continues to stare the nation in the face.
4. Southern governors’ 2023 demand
On Monday, July 5, Southern Governors’ Forum met in Lagos and said among other things in a communiqué at the end of the meeting that the South part of Nigeria should be allowed to produce the next president of Nigeria.
The forum in the communique reaffirmed their commitment to the unity of Nigeria on the pillars of equity, fairness, justice, progress and peaceful co-existence between and amongst its people.
It reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agrees that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the Southern region.
The demand by the southern governors is another evidence of why there is an urgent need for a national dialogue to discuss how the country should be run.
It is a clear evidence of how ethnicity and religion determine power distribution and allocation of resources among the nation’s federating units.
It equally points to the gory political situation in Nigeria that allows merit to be sacrificed on the altar of ethnicity and religious sentiments.
5. NEF’s reply to southern governors
In response to the Southern Governors’ Forum demand for the region to produce the 2023 president, the Northern Elders Forum on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, gave conditions under which the North may support the demand by the southern governors.
Speaking on Channels TV, NEF spokesman, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said: “You read in between the lines of their well-crafted communique that says that they want basically a southern presidency. It is not wrong. That means the North needs to yield the presidency to the southern part of the country. There is nothing wrong with that.
“The problem is the manner it is being pursued this time by people who were elected on the basis of the constitution, who understand that politics is about getting up and convincing people rather than just sitting down and say ‘we want this, we want that.’ That’s wrong.
“Two, they must know that the manner they are doing this, not what they are looking for, but the manner in which they are doing it is likely to cause more problem for them than solve the problems
“But the problem is to get the North to say, ‘Ok, show us why it is better. Show us why a southern presidency is the best for the North and the rest of Nigeria.’ This is a democratic country. Citizens vote. Nigerians, irrespective of where they are, will vote. Political parties have to do the hard work.”
The position of the northern elders on zoning the 2023 presidency to the South tells the hypocritical nature of Nigerian politicians.
The southern politicians are not doing anything different from what their northern politicians, who now term their action wrong, did when they clamoured for a return of power to the North in 2015 general elections.
As already stated earlier, the whole development tells how regional and ethnic sentiments continue to divide the nation.